What takes place when someone finally responds to the gospel? Do we ask for people to come forward and “pray a prayer” in a meeting? What response do we see people make to the gospel in the New Testament? We must reclaim not only the correct doctrine of salvation, we must also restore the experience of salvation as revealed in scripture.
The Gospel According to Peter
Speaking the first message following the resurrection of Jesus, Peter preaches about Jesus and God’s ageless plan (Acts 2:36-41). The people listening ask, “What shall we do? He gives the answer in verse 38: “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Peter’s answer to the crowd includes four key elements:
- REPENTANCE: Turn away from what you’ve done wrong.
- FAITH: Believe in Jesus for forgiveness of sins.
- WATER BAPTISM: Be baptized in water to show you have faith in Jesus.
- BAPTISM IN THE SPIRIT: Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
The Book of Acts
Throughout the book of Acts these four elements are always there. Here are a few examples…
Acts 8: 9-17 - Samaria
- The people turn from following an occult magician (v.9-13) – Repentance
- The people believed in Jesus (v.12) – Faith
- The people were baptized in water (v.12) – Baptism in Water
- The people received the gift of the Holy Spirit (v.15,17) – Baptism in the Spirit.
Acts 9: 17-18 – Paul’s Conversion
Paul repented (turned from) his old evil ways and believed in Jesus (v.1-6). Here he is filled with the Holy Spirit and baptized in water.
Acts 19:1-7 - Ephesus
This is the start of the church in the city of Ephesus. When Paul visits the city, he finds some God-fearing people but is concerned that something is missing. He asked them, “Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed?” (v.2). Paul explains Jesus to these disciples of John. They evidently believed and are baptized as a result of believing in Jesus (vs. 4-5). Their baptism with Paul was not actually them being “re-baptized” as Christians since their first baptism was John the Baptist’s baptism and did not involve faith in Jesus for forgiveness of sin. After their water baptism, Paul laid hands upon them to receive the Holy Spirit and they were filled and spoke with tongues (v.6).
The salvation experience of the early church was a rich encounter as people responded to the gospel with an active faith! May we seek for the people we meet in our communities to undergo this great salvation experience themselves.